What is Custody in Oregon and what does Joint vs. Sole custody mean?
When minor children are involved, this is a question I get in almost every initial consultation. In Oregon, the term “custody” refers to legal custody only. Legal custody gives that parent the right to make the major decisions regarding education, medical and some religious decisions. However, it does not directly relate to how much time each parent has with the children. In Oregon, that is called parenting time (not visitation.)
There are two possible outcomes when it comes to custody in Oregon. First, the parents can agree that they will share custody which is called joint custody. Joint custody is only available if both parents agree; Family Law Courts do not have the authority to award joint legal custody. Second, one of the parents can have sole custody of the kids. Either the parents can agree on which parent will have sole custody or the court can order which parent will have sole custody of the kids.
There are important legal implications of joint vs. sole custody; both in day to day co-parenting and in future legal disputes that may arise over custody. Therefore, the decision of whether to agree to joint legal custody or to ask for sole legal custody should be made with the help of a knowledgeable Family Law attorney.